Tag Archives: doubt

An Apostle for Skeptics

Duccio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas (The Maesta altarpiece, 1308-1311)

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

John gave us the fullest portrait of Thomas in the Gospels, however brief and sketchy, in three instances. 

First, when he accompanied Jesus and the disciples from the river Jordan to Bethany in response to the urgent message of Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus was ill. Jesus had just barely escaped being stoned to death in Judea, and now proposed returning to the area again, a risky move in the view of the disciples. If Lazarus is “asleep,” he will recover, they reasoned. Then Jesus told them clearly, “Lazarus has died,” prompting Thomas’ gloomy response: “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16).

Second, at the table of the Last Supper, Thomas gave voice to the uncomprehending hearts of all the disciples as they listened to Jesus’ discourse about the “many dwelling places” in his “Father’s house.” 

“Where I am going you know the way,” Jesus concluded. Thomas was not afraid to admit his ignorance: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” His question was rewarded with the immortal words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Third, Thomas showed up a week after the Resurrection full of skepticism, having heard from the other ten disciples that Jesus was alive and came to them through locked doors on the evening of the third day after his crucifixion. The whole group claimed to have seen the Lord’s hands and pierced side—a mass delusion in all probability. After all, grief can lead to wishful thinking. 

But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

As if playing with Thomas, Jesus repeated his miraculous entry through closed doors with the same words of greeting as on the previous Sunday.

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas spoke for all who wrestle with doubt and need sensible proof so as not to sink into unbelief. Eucharistic miracles, visions of Christ, Marian apparitions, and the numerous prodigies that have been approved by the Church in the last two millennia answered the Thomas in all of us. Yet after Pentecost, we have a more powerful witness than all sensible proof—the Spirit of truth, our Advocate, without whom no one can say, “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Jesus assured all those whom Thomas would later preach to, that their faith was no less authentic without the aid of sight. Faith may be “blind” to the physical eye, but full of light to the spiritual eye (Ephesians 1:18; Matthew 6:22).

Follow Thomas in this video for the fifth Sunday of Lent on the raising of Lazarus. His witness gives us the freedom to doubt, question, and make an honest appraisal of Jesus Christ.

-GMC

Ist Sunday of Easter: The Thomas in Us All

Audio of the homily below:

The yearly feast of Easter is a celebration, not of one day, but of fifty days, from Holy Saturday till the feast of Pentecost. We also celebrate Easter each Sunday of the year.

Why this extensive celebration? Because we’re so slow to realize what it means, and need reminding over and over.

Some things — like telling time or tying our shoes — we learn once, but the resurrection of Jesus is a mystery not learned at once. Never grasped completely, it unfolds as life unfolds, day by day.

That’s why Thomas, the apostle, whom we remember on the 2nd Sunday of Easter, is such an important figure. Far from being a lonely skeptic, an isolated dissenter, he represents the slowness of heart and mind, the recurrent skepticism, that affects us all.

Yet, Thomas is still a sign of hope. He reminds us that the Risen Jesus offers, even to the most unconvinced, the power to believe.

Lord Jesus,
the Thomas in us all
needs the wounds in your hands and side,
to call us to believe
you are our Lord and God.

Risen, present everywhere,
bless those who have not seen,
blind with doubts
and weakened faith.

Bless us, Lord,
from your wounded hands and side,
give us faith
to believe in you.

Spanish
El Tomás Dentro de Todos Nosotros
Juán 20, 19-31, Segundo Domingo de Pascua

La fiesta anual de Pascua florida es una celebración, no de un día, sino de cincuenta días, desde el Sábado Santo hasta la fiesta de Pentecostés. También celebramos el Domingo de Pascua cada domingo del año.

¿Por qué esta extensa celebración? Porque somos tan lentos en realizar lo que significa, y también necesitamos ser recordados una y otra vez.

Algunas cosas – como leer el reloj o amarrarnos los zapatos – las aprendemos una sola vez, pero la resurrección de Jesús es un misterio que no se aprende de una vez. Nunca comprendido completamente, se revela gradualmente mientras la vida se despliega día por día.

Por eso es que Tomás, el apóstol a quien recordamos el Segundo Domingo de Pascua, es una figura tan importante. Lejos de ser un escéptico solitario, un disidente aislado, él representa la lentitud de corazón y mente, el esceptisismo recurrente, que nos afecta a todos.

Sin embargo, Tomás sigue siendo un signo de esperanza. Él nos recuerda que el Jesús Resucitado nos ofrece hasta el menos convencido de nosotros, el poder de creer.

Señor Jesús, el Tomás en todos nosotros
necesita las heridas de tu costado y manos,
llamándonos a creer que eres nuestro Señor y Dios.
Resucitado, presente en todas partes,
bendice a los que no han visto,
ciegos con dudas y fé debilitada.
Bendícenos Señor; a través de tus heridas manos y costado,
danos fé para creer en Tí.

The Storm at Sea: 19th Sunday A

You can hear the homily here: 

I visited Magdala along the Sea of Galilee a few months ago and since then I think differently about the apostles, especially  fishermen apostles like Peter and Andrew, James and John. Magdala, the city of Mary Magdalen, was a center for the fishing industry in Galilee in Jesus’ time, according to archeologists who recently uncovered the city.

It evidently was a prosperous place, and so far from being “poor and ignorant” many of the Galilean fishermen were well-off, savy businessmen who knew their way around.

Did Jesus choose them and the tax-collector, Matthew, because they knew the territory well and would be good guides to  the places he wanted to visit? They knew where to go and how to get there: the Sea of Galilee was their usual highway

But a storm like that described in our gospel today (Matthew 14,22-33) would shake anybody, even the most self-asssured.

When we read a miracle story like the calming of the sea and someone walking on water, we shouldn’t just stop in amazement at the power of Jesus. There’s a lesson to be learned in the story. What’s the lesson here?

Perhaps  like Peter and the rest of the disciples we can easily fall into thinking that there are some things beyond God’s power–and ours– to do. These were confident men, yet their faith was shaken, like ours often is. When told by Jesus to walk on the water, Peter believed up to a point, then he said, “This can’t be; it’s not possible; it’s beyond his power and mine to do.” In fear and doubt he began to sink.

Doesn’t this happen to us too? We believe, up to a point, and then we doubt. Our doubts about God’s power can be brought about by major events in our world, as ovewhelming as a storm at sea. Wars, terrorist attacks, global warming. How quickly we throw up our hands as if this is all beyond God’s power and ours.

We are all in the same boat. Take a look at the boat on the Sea of Galilee–it’s  the world on the sea of history, it’s the church in time. In storms, they may both look like they’re going to sink. But they wont. Jesus is in the boat.

That’s what the mystery of the Incarnation tells us.